Historical archive

Social Inclusion-Towards a European Best practice

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Social Inclusion-Towards a European Best practice

Social Inclusion – Towards a European Best Practice inOslo,Norway, 5.- 6. February 2004

The Minister of Social Affairs, mrs. Ingjerd Schou, held a Conference dinner Thursday night. Here is the Minister´s speech:

Conference participants, dear colleagues and friends,

This morning I had the pleasure of welcoming you to our conference to discuss European practices on social inclusion. I do hope that you have had an interesting day, and that the conference so far has met with your expectations.

I would like to use this occasion to thank all those having participated in the planning and preparation of this conference. My senior officials have asked me in particular to thank their colleagues in collaborating Ministries and all the other co-workers for the very important and fruitful input during the challenging process that has led to this conference.

Tonight we are gathered at Soria Moria in Holmenkollen. Soria Moria, as I understand it, has a common meaning in many European fairytales. Soria Moria, is the very special place where the “pauper” or the “Ashlad”, as we call him in Norway, always wins the princess and half of the Kingdom. To Norwegians Soria Moria is a beautiful wooden building; a Norwegian Castle.

In the 19 th> century, being one of the poorest nations of Europe, Norway was a European Ashlad. Like the Ashlad of the fairytales, Norway was forced to face countless dangers, and set out on long and hazardous journeys, east of the sun and west of the moon. But far, far away she could see something shining and sparkling –SoriaMoriaCastle”.

Norway has had a long way to go, but today, the dreams of the Norwegian Ashlad has made a long path forward, and the Soria Moria Castle is within reach. Therefore, I have the great pleasure to welcome you to this dinner at Soria Moria, a Norwegian Fairytale Castle, where we can continue to share our hopes and our dreams, but also to discuss “best practices” to overcome common obstacles.

As I told you in my opening speech, we hope to make this conference into an experience for us all. We hope it will prove to be worthwhile for the challenging work ahead of all of us in an enlarged European framework with the objective “to create a more prosperous Europe at the service of its citizens”.

Norway shares the common objectives and concerns with the enlarged EU as regards the need to strengthen social cohesion, the future of the social protection systems and the sustainability of pensions.

My Government has focused on a comprehensive strategy containing a broad range of measures. We focus on a family policy that allows both women and men to have the possibility of combining work and care. We also focus on stronger responsibilities for the employers to follow up people being long term sick.

We look for a more targeted unemployment assistance system to provide incentives for active job search, and stronger focus on helping vocational disabled back to work. This includes a pension system ensuring significant employment amongst the elderly. We also want to merge the policy towards all unemployed people independent of their functional ability. Rehabilitation processes must start as early as possible.

An overall aim for my Government in the social dimension field is to focus on the user. In this endeavour, the role of the non-profit and the volunteers cannot be overestimated. The role of the NGOs and the social partners in all aspects of fighting poverty is vital for the work we are undertaking. I am happy to see so many of you among us, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of tomorrow’s discussions.

However, social welfare and social security is more than physical wellbeing and a safe economy. Social wellbeing must also be linked to social relationships, company with good friends and colleagues, and to good food. That is why we are gathered tonight at Soria Moria at Holmenkollen for this conference dinner.

I hope that you will take pleasure in our Norwegian kitchen and I wish you a pleasant meal.